Founded in Summer 2014, ‘Celebrate Diversity Miami’ (CDM) envisions a united greater Miami community, where residents from all backgrounds feel accepted, connected, and valued. The Miami-Dade County community is known for being home to a diverse population of individuals who represent a myriad of racial and ethnic backgrounds; however, too often our diverse inhabitants tends to live and work in silos, making it difficult to interact with one another in meaningful ways. While cultural differences exist, CDM presents an opportunity to challenge our community to look beyond negative perceptions that are perpetuated by outside sources such as the media, and find what makes the locales of Miami magical – their richness of people and culture. CDM aspires to instill a deepened sense of connectivity between our culturally and ethnically diverse neighborhoods by taking the initiative to creatively engage residents countywide, and ultimately showcase how diversity can contribute to greater Miami in an inviting, positive, and valuable manner.
Community Bicycle Tours
To view photos from our Oct. 2014 kick-off event, click on image above.
The CDM kick-off event was a family-friendly bike ride made possible in part by collaborating with Emerge Miami. Tours via bicycle give riders a first-hand, fun experience to explore and learn about the community-building efforts of local organizations dedicated to creating positive social change in our neighborhoods. We’ve partnered with the following communities: October 2014 – Overtown, Liberty City, and Little Haiti; April 2015 – Coconut Grove and Little Havana. We’re open to suggestions for future tour locations, so be sure to send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas!
Photo-voice is a process by which people can identify, represent, and enhance their community through photography (www.photovoice.org). CDM’s exhibit is providing residents of all ages and cultural backgrounds, as well as community-based organizations, a space to visually share stories from their perspective about the celebration of diversity throughout greater Miami. Thanks to a partnership with PhilanthroFest, our exhibit premiered at the 4th annual civic engagement festival which took place at Museum Park on April 11, 2015. Throughout 2015 it traveled and continued to be showcased at various neighborhood events & venues across the county. To view photos from the exhibit’s stops, click HERE.
To view photos from the main event, click on the image above.
In June 2015, thanks to a national partnership with the U.S. Dept. of Arts & Culture, residents of greater Miami embarked on a 2-day journey to envision what our neighborhoods might light look 20 years from now, when arts & cultural initiatives have been infused into all aspects of public life. The initial evening event ‘2035 – Powered by PechaKucha‘ was a fundraiser that presented an opportunity to learn from local organizations’ existing efforts in residential neighborhoods, business districts, schools, and beyond. Check out photos HERE. During the following afternoon, we reconvened at The New Tropic’s space for a family-friendly gathering where attendees connected and were inspired to conjure up collective visions for our communities’ future.
To view photos of postcard responses, click on the image above.
A series of 4 postcards was created from our 2015 Photo-voice Exhibit, with each one depicting a section of an exhibit panel. The ultimate goal is to feature this series in gift shops across greater Miami, so visitors to local neighborhoods can share far & wide what our community looks like beyond the typical beach landscape. Thanks to our connection with the K880 Emerging City Champions fellowship we learned about the Neighborhood Postcard Project, a global participatory art project created by artist Hunter Franksin 2013 that fosters community connection through storytelling exchange. Throughout Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 we invited people to write on a postcard from the series what they appreciate most about their neighborhood.
Intergroup dialogue “… represents a grassroots effort to meet one of the major challenges facing our democracy today: the lack of communication among diverse groups of people in schools … communities, and … workplace. By forging lines of communication among different elements of society, [it] helps to create a more just, harmonious, and strong democracy.” (Hurtado & Schoem, 2001). Thanks to another great partnership with MCCJ, we supported a series of group dialogue opportunities open to the public during their Spring 2016 Intersectional Mornings initiative, where attendees took part in nuanced conversations about diversity and inclusion within the context of our local neighborhoods. In June 2016 we collaborated with several organizations to help create an interactive Town Hall with Liberty City residents, which accompanied the local NeighborWorks America Week 2016 events. The aforementioned were also made possible in part by the K880 Emerging City Champions fellowship, a program of 8 80 Citieswith support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
To view photos from our past tours, click on the image above.
#MiamiWalks has been part of a global walking movement known as ‘Jane’s Walk‘ since Spring 2017, led by City Organizer for Miami, FL, Naomi Ross. These kind of walks, inspired by a 1960s writer & activist named Jane Jacobs (learn more via the documentary Citizen Jane), have engaged 10s of 1,000s of people all over the world in 200+ cities since 2007. Locally in neighborhoods across Miami-Dade County – including Coral Gables, Downtown, Brickell, Central & East Little Havana, South Miami, North Miami, Shenandoah, Coconut Grove and beyond – we’ve coordinated a variety of unique, free, citizen-led walking tours where attendees can actively connect with friends & neighbors outdoors, while engaging in conversations with one another and learning more about the city they live in.
Inspiration & Founder
Two highly successful precedents have provided a base of inspiration for our efforts, the first of which was the‘Coexistence’ exhibition that traveled the world from 2001 until 2008. ‘Coexistence’ was created to contribute to dialogue in communities about our differences, and encouraged people to think about issues of tolerance and understanding. In addition, an organization in Sarasota called ‘Embracing Our Differences’ (EOD) has been holding a free, outdoor exhibit for the past ten years, which over 1.5 million visitors have seen. EOD’s mission is to promote diversity and inclusion throughout their community, and they believe everyone has the right to feel safe, be empowered, and make a difference in our world. Due to continued success since 2004, EOD has been able to expand its exhibit and host it at a second venue.
CDM began as a graduate school capstone project while Naomi L. Ross was attending University of Miami’s masters program in Community & Social Change. A native South Floridian, Naomi is dedicated to working as a change agent in communities. During her final year of undergrad studies at UM’s School of Architecture, she discovered her true passion for being an engaged citizen. Since then, Naomi has grown her capacity for leadership while actively volunteering with a multitude of community-based organizations, as well as by serving 3 terms as an AmeriCorpsmember with local nonprofits addressing neighborhood revitalization, food equity, and academic service-learning. She’s an avid connector on a mission to creatively develop initiatives that spark conversation on diversity, encourage collaboration, and inspire action for positive social change. In addition, Naomi is proud to be a local EcoDistrictsAccredited Professional, which takes a collaborative, holistic, neighborhood-scale approach to community design to achieve meaningful outcomes that matter to people & planet. Her most recent endeavor in 2018 was creating the ‘Value of Miami’s Community‘ series aka #ValueMiami, which has featured leaders & organizations from throughout Greater Miami focused on making a positive impact on our community development and the lives of residents.